Adam Dunn has tried to be the calming voice for the White Sox over the last week, as the team entered play Monday night against the Cleveland Indians having lost five consecutive games.
In Chicago’s 5-4 win Monday, he had the calming bat.
Thanks to Dunn, the Sox kept their one-game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central, as the slugger hit two home runs, including a three-run blast in the eighth inning that proved to be the game-winner.
“You can’t worry about what other teams are doing,” Dunn said. “We are in first place. That’s what people are still forgetting. We are in first place.
“If we win as many games as we can and we play well, we will make the playoffs. You don’t have to watch when you have a lead. You don’t have to scoreboard-watch. It’s nice if we win and they lose, but if we win them all and they win them all, guess who goes?”
It may sound simple, but it’s looked very difficult for the Sox in recent days. They beat Detroit in a Sept. 17 makeup game, left for Kansas City and Anaheim for six games, and lost five straight after winning the opener in the Royals, watching the lead shrink to one.
Detroit’s Monday win was over before the Sox game concluded, so it looked as if the division might wind up tied. Then Dunn rode in on his white horse and played hero.
“Knowing the situation and everything that goes with it, they were big at-bats,” manager Robin Ventura said of Dunn’s homers — which were Nos. 40 and 41 of the season.
Bigger for Dunn since he entered the game in a 2-for-21 slump and looked just as lifeless as the rest of the slumping offense.
“We were struggling to score runs,” Dunn said. “I had been swinging and missing for about a week.”
The Sox have two more games with the Indians and then a huge four-game series with the Rays before finishing the year in Cleveland.
“You never know what can happen over these last games as far as a team getting hot and playing well,” team captain Paul Konerko said. “I know how teams go. In a matter of two, three games, you have a couple great games and you feel like you’re the best team in the world. So that can definitely happen over the last games.”